Rebels 4 Broncos 2
For the majority of the 2021-22 WHL season, the Red Deer Rebels have been road warriors.
They have a stellar record away from the Peavey Mart Centrium, posting a 15-4-2-1 mark on the road.
At home, it’s been a much different story.
Red Deer was just two games above .500 with a 10-8-0-1 mark in the friendly Centrium confines heading into Friday’s contest and despite a solid effort, they needed every bit of 60 minutes to sneak past the Swift Current Broncos.
The Rebels improved to 25-12-2-1 on the year with a 4-2 victory over the Broncos, after Liam Keeler sealed the victory with a short-handed, empty-net goal with 50 seconds left in the game.
“I thought it was a pretty solid game. Swift Current is playing good hockey, desperate hockey, they’re battling for a playoff spot. They play hard and they played a smart game,” said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
“I thought our guys were willing to grind and for the most part had a grinding effort. We had some chances and maybe could have scored a couple more goals. We had a little bit of adversity but we dug and kept playing and got two points.”
The WHL’s leading scorer once again played a big factor in the win, as he’s done so many times this year.
Ben King got the game-winning goal for the Rebels in the second period. He was the recipient of a perfect pass from Blake Gustafson and King tapped in his league-leading 30th goal of the year, 5:14 into the middle frame.
He also had an assist on a power play marker from Kalan Lind in the second period that made it 2-0. King, 19, has 16 points in his last seven games and multi-point games in his last six. King’s linemate Arshdeep Bains also had an assist on the first Rebels’ goal and extended his point streak to seven games.
“They have really good chemistry together and they feed off each other really well,” said Rebels captain Jayden Grubbe, who was first star on the night.
“We’re really fortunate that we have them when the team needs a boost or we need a goal, we know they’re there. A lot of times they come and they produce, it’s pretty nice.”
Grubbe opened the scoring early in the second. Bains found the captain streaking through the offensive zone and he buried a laser past Issac Poulter. He now has goals in back-to-back games, eight goals on the season overall and is starting to find his stride after missing most of last season with a knee injury.
“Just for me, I’ve focused more on being physical and using my speed. It just kind of came. I haven’t really thought about it and just got a couple bounces the last couple games and it’s starting to come,” Grubbe said.
With a 2-0 lead and the Rebels cruising, Broncos forward Raphael Pelletier tipped home a Josh Filmon point shot for his 12th goal of the year with 6:14 left in the second.
King’s tally early in the third looked to be a dagger before an unfortunate giveaway from Rebels goalie Chase Coward let the Broncos back within one.
The Rebels netminder was looking to make a breakout pass on the power play, but the puck landed right on the stick of Mathew Ward who tapped his 15th goal of the year into the empty net.
Red Deer buckled down and killed off two penalties in the final 10 minutes of the game to seal the win.
“That’s important. There are mistakes made every game. There’s going to be bad bounces every game. We gotta understand that and we have to be prepared to have one-goal games or tie games in the third period,” Konowalchuk said.
“And just be O.K. with that. And be willing to win them late or win them however you can. There’s not going to be too many easy games the rest of the way. Every team is fighting for something, every team is dialed in with their system and structure and you have to fight for every puck.
“They got a bounce – a break and our guys battled back and did what they had to do.”
The Rebels are back on the ice at home Saturday night when they welcome the Lethbridge Hurricanes.